2015-07-10 Chatillon-sur-Indre – Bellac

Today’s photo shows a restored chateau south of Chatillon-sur-Indre.

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Total today – 105 km. Total so far – 570 km. No fear of getting lost today as I just have to stay on the D975 all the way to Bellac. The road is brilliant to cycle on as it is quite wide and there is little traffic in this part of France.

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Charging gadgets in a campsite toilet. It is not all glamour going camping in the French countryside. Today, I was up before dawn to charge up my laptop computer, camera and phone ready for the day ahead. The only plugs I could use were in the toilet unit at the campsite. Lack of power is the biggest issue on the Tour de Travoy so far. I have lost out on the best part of a days cycling already just waiting for things to charge up. For my next Tour, I will try and get a 3 pin to 2 pin adapter to use the campervan plugs and bring extra portable batteries.

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The Indre river in Chatillon-sur-Indre. The dawn chorus this morning was the louder here than any other place I stayed in. Even though, the campsite is in the middle of town, it is right beside the Indre river and is surrounded by trees.The dawn chorus was like the New York Philharmonic Orchestra with all the noise from hundreds of birds which went on for over an hour. I am sorry I din’t take a video to record the audio as it was one of the highlights of the Tour de Travoy so far.

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Main street in Chatillon-sur-Indre. Chatillon-sur-Indre is a lovely town but it is a bit run down. The population of 3,000 is the same as during the French Revolution and is about 1,000 less than 100 years ago.

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Medieval fair in Chatillion-sur-Indre. The town is most famous for its re-enactment of a medieval fair, called the Fete Historique Franco-Ecossaise, held every year in June. The fete features competitions similar to the Highland Games such as Tug of War and many people dress up in kilts and play the bagpipes.

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Franco-Scottish medieval fair. The fair celebrates in 1295 the signing of the “Auld Alliance” between the kings of Scotland and France to fight against the English. As a result of this Alliance, thousands of mercenary soldiers from Scotland fought alongside the French during the Hundred Years war. In 1419, 20 thousand soldiers sailed from the Clyde to La Rochelle and then made their way to the castle at Chatillon-sur-Indre. In 1421, these soldiers under the command of John Stewart, the Earl of Buchan helped the French defeat the English at the Battle of Bauge.

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Battle of Bauge in 1421. As a result of this victory, the Scottish lords were given land in the Chatillon area and many soldiers settled down there. In 1429, many of these soldiers fought alongside Joan of Arc during the Siege of Orleans. The French king, Charles VII, picked 100 Scotchmen as bodyguards and set up the Garde Ecossaise, which guarded the French monachy for the next 400 years until 1830 when Charles X of France abdicated. The “Auld Alliance” didn’t last as long. When Scotland turned Protestant in the 16th Century, it then sided with England in any battles with the French. However, Charles de Gaulle once called the Auld Alliance “the oldest of any in the world” and until 1903 any Scottish person living in France could receive French nationality automatically.

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There is a Tour de France every year for runners too. The town also often features in the Tour de France for runners and in 2012 hosted the Grand Depart. The race seems to be for teams of relay runners and last year, the fastest team, the Urma Paca New Balance team, ran the 2,500 km route in about 157 hours or an average speed of 15.6 km/hr.

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Only one person has ever run the route of the Tour de France. While dozens of people cycle the route of the Tour de France for charity every year, incredibly, only one person has ever run the route of Le Grand Boucle. In 2013, Zoe Romano spent 72 days running over 3,300 km along the route of the 100th Tour de France. She had to run the equivalent of a marathon every day for 10 weeks and raised over $160,000 for charity. A Kickstarter project was launched to make a film about her run and the trailer is below.

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Heatwave in south-west France. Today was the hottest day on the Tour de Travoy so far. It was 30 degrees Celsius leaving Chatillon-sur-Indre and was over 38 degrees by the time I arrived in Bellac. You can see from the screenshot below that it was the hottest part of France that day. You could tell how hot it was by how quick your mouth got dry after taking a swig of water. Normally, in Donegal you take a drink every half-hour. Today, my mouth and tongue would be bone dry one minute after a big slurp of yukky lukewarm water. I must have drunk 10 litres of water today (that’s a full bucket) and didn’t pee once. The water just flows out of your back, arms and legs in sweat. To make the warm water more palatable, I started using my hydration tablets to add some fizz and replace some of the salts and minerals I was losing to all the sweat.

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Camping Municipal at Bellac. It was seriously hot when I arrived at the municipal campsite in Bellac but luckily, I was able to get the last shaded pitch. At 9 o’clock in the evening, it was still 35 degrees but at least it cooled down to about 20 overnight.

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